While markets are heating up, commerce minister Tofail Ahmed claims that other than one product, the prices of all other commodities remain stable. Transportation hitches and delayed supplies during the rains can push prices of vegetables up, but the minister was referring to onions. Ironically, there is more than adequate supply of onions in the market. Onions arrived two or three months ago at the wholesale market in Khatunganj, so why should onion prices double in a matter of a month?
There are two weeks or so left for qurbani Eid. The demand for onions will go up. So will onion prices. Onion production was poor in India this year so prices have soared there too, but not doubled as in Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, a section of traders simply await the chance to make a fast profit. Over the last few months much has been said about rice and rice prices. Now the consumers are going to be stripped of cash for onions.
Traders allege that the imported goods arrive and lie in the port for a few days. This puts prices up and delays the entire process of taking the goods to the consumers.
The commerce minister discussed matters with the Chittagong Port chairman and has said the problem will be resolved. The government will import onions from Egypt. But by the time the onions arrive from Egypt, Eid will be over.
The Trading Corporation of Bangladesh (TCB) is supposed to take measures to ensure that unscrupulous traders don’t push prices up on any excuse. But so far there is no sign of any tangible action from TCB. It is the commerce ministry’s responsibility to monitor the market. If they leave everything in the hands of the businessmen in the name of free market, then why have TCB at all?
Reduce the pungent price of onions before Eid.